The mud is deep and thick and black. The smoothness of its surface is deceiving, drawing me closer to it with promises of contentment. It lures those who dare to tread upon it into its hidden depths. Hopes are dashed as one struggles for freedom. It is tenacious: Lift one foot upward and the other sinks deeper into Mother Earth. A sense of futility in escaping its grasp erodes the ...

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I’ve been concerned lately. Here’s why. In 2001, I got sick with what the doctors assumed was an acute viral infection, but I never recovered. I’m mostly housebound, often bedbound. My diagnosis is the little understood (but much misunderstood) myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. I describe it as “the flu without the fever.” This means that fatigue is only one of many symptoms I contend with ...

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“The dermatology profession exists for the primary purpose of caring for the patient. The physician-patient relationship is the central focus of all ethical concerns.” - American Academy of Dermatology, Code of Medical Ethics. The doctor-patient relationship is one of profound importance and complexity. And while doctors in training often receive quality mentorship regarding their chosen specialty, many lack good mentors to guide them in the art of the doctor-patient relationship. This is ...

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Doctors are regularly deluged with advice on how to engage patients. But how can you, as a patient, get your doctor to engage with you as a person truly? Your health — and even your life — could depend upon it. A perceived absence of empathy can significantly harm physical and mental well-being. At a recent Society for Participatory Medicine (SPM) conference (I’m a member), three ...

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STAT_Logo My son, Luke, was born 18 months ago with myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. Luke and our family have faced many challenges: premature birth at 26 weeks due to complications after in utero surgery for spina bifida; a 171-day stay in the neonatal intensive care unit; 10 surgeries since birth; and more. Throughout ...

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When my father reached his mid-80s, an accelerating accumulation of physical and mental functioning issues persuaded him to switch to a primary care physician in a concierge medical practice. Although the doctor’s pedigree proclaimed his competence, he mostly excelled as the medical equivalent of a hotel concierge who can magically procure hard-to-get restaurant reservations at the last minute. The doctor would see my dad on short notice and make sure he ...

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When I was a preemie — all two-and-a-half pounds of me — my mom was understandably worried. She said her doctor wheeled her down the hall to the newborn nursery, and my mom could hear me screaming all the way down the hall. She said, “I’ve got to hand it to you. You let your voice be heard — you let your needs be known. I told her that at ...

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An excerpt from How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Second Edition). Copyright 2018 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications.  In the years since I’ve been chronically ill, more essential to me than formal meditation has been mindfulness outside of ...

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An excerpt from How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Second Edition). Copyright 2018 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications.  The fifth way I cultivate compassion for myself is to consciously work on opening my heart to the intense emotions ...

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One of the most important factors on patients’ minds is affordability of care. According to a recent McKinsey study, 72 percent of consumers are concerned about at least one kind of health care expense, be it related to health insurance, routine medical procedures, end-of-life care or otherwise. As it pertains to prescriptions, patients carry these affordability concerns from their providers’ offices to the pharmacy. More often than not, ...

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